Friday Night Fights: Take a Seat

Tonioght’s the last round of Friday Night Fights: Ka-Pow!, and with the emphasis on sound effects, I’ve been looking for the loudest fight I can find. But since I’ve already used the all-splash issue of Walt Simonson’s Thor where he fights the Midgard Serpent, it’s time to go with a Modern Classic!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

From Garth Ennis and Steve Dillon’s classic Welcome Back, Frank, which no reader should be without.

The Week In Ink: January 28, 2009

You know, Ed Brubaker really understands kicks to the face and comics:

 

 

You said it, brother!

In fact, that’s the guiding principle behind these, the Internet’s Least Helpful Comics Reviews! Here’s what I got this week…

 

 

…and here’s what I thought of ‘em!

 


 

Comics

Avengers: The Initiative #21: On Tuesday, I was having lunch with my pal Chad–of Impossible! and Monster Plus fame–and asked me if I’d seen this issue, because it had one of the busiest covers he had ever seen. Putting aside the fact that yes, my friends and I while away our lunch ours discussing cover layouts, I thought he was exaggerating, until Wednesday rolled around and I actually saw it:

 

 

Ah yes, another action packed issue of Dark Reign Avengers The Initiative Disassembled! I’m going to go ahead and assume that this was an intentional gag–because really, there’s no way that the team behind this book could let that cover go out the door without realizing that the top third looked like the marketing department’s junk drawer threw up on it–so the question here is why’d they stop with only three crossovers on the cover?

Me, I woulda gone all out!

 

 

Batman: The Brave and the Bold #1: I mentioned back when it debuted that I was having a lot of fun with the new Brave and the Bold cartoon, and with the exception of the episode that involves both Red Tornado and the revelation that Bruce Wayne’s parents died on Christmas because he was being a total dick to them, it’s held up pretty well. I mean, there is an episode where Batman and Plastic Man team up to fight dinosaur-riding gorillas by beating them with money, and if that’s not as as we can get to my Platonic Ideal of Batman, I don’t know what is. So I’ve been looking forward to seeing what they’d do with the comic, and I gotta say, I’m a little disappointed.

Don’t get me wrong, it’s a perfectly serviceable story in the style of the show that has a few really fun moments, and I’m sure all The Kids These Days just love Power Girl, it’s missing something. I think it’s fair to say that Marvel’s raised the bar for kids’ comics over the past few years with the Marvel Adventures line, but even when you stack it up against its predecessors like Batman Adventures and Superman Adventures, or even the original Brave and the Bold stories that inspired it, it doesn’t quite hold up.

But really, that doesn’t matter. I am going to read every issue of this book, because it started off with a cover–and an interview–by producer James Tucker that promises Batman teaming up with Bat-Mite, Kamandi, and OMAC. And that is going to be rad.

 

Captain America #46: With this issue, Ed Brubaker and Steve Epting continue to turn in one of the best and most consistent books on the stands with all the intrigue and action you could want from the adventures of Bucky Barnes, none of which appear to take place during daylight. But that’s not news.

What matters for this issue is that there’s a character named Sims, and I’ll admit that was nice to see. I mean, considering that he doesn’t show up and start telling the Black Widow how stoked he was to see Cap get a boot to the jaw from Batroc ze Leapair in the last issue, I don’t think he was named after me, but “Sims” isn’t all that common a name, and it wouldn’t be the first time I’d shown up in Cap. And since the Sims of the Marvel Universe is drunk, lecherous, and knows a heck of a lot about super-heroes, maybe there is a connection!

 

Final Crisis #7: Loved it.

 

ISB BEST OF THE WEEK

 

 

Punisher War Zone #6: …but I loved this one a little more.

I think it’s fair to say that I’m a fan of the Punisher, and while I’ve got a lot of affection for the stories by guys like Mike Baron and Carl Potts, it owes more to Garth Ennis than to anyone else. With eight years on the book, he defined the character in a way that we haven’t seen since Walt Simonson on Thor, from the dark comedy of the original Marvel Knights run to the brutality of the MAX series.

When his run finally ended last summer, I mentioned that what I really wanted was for Steve Dillon to come back for one last story that would tie it all together and give a little closure to a run that I’ve spent most of the past decade reading, and that’s exactly what War Zone has been. It’s the perfect sequel to Welcome Back, Frank, and this is the best issue of the run; not just because it’s Ennis and Dillon on the Punisher, but because it’s Ennis and Dillon at their rip-roaring best, doing a story with all the violence and comedy that you’d expect from those two. And it does have comedy: There are scenes in this thing that are only outdone by the “It’s bears!” scene in the original in terms of making me laugh aloud while I read it.

It’s everything I wanted it to be, and if this is actually the last time Ennis writes the Punisher, it’s a great note to go out on. And seriously, mark my words: “It’s like feminism never even happened!” is the catchphrase of the year.

Which in turn brings us to…

 

Tarot: Witch of the Black Rose 54: Someone alert the media, because this is the first issue of Tarot ever that is not also the worst issue of the run when it’s published. It’s not for lack of trying, though, but after last issue? It’s nothing.

The plot, such as it is, revolves around Raven Hex, Tarot’s sister whose bustiness led her to a life of witchity crime, wandering through the world of fairy tales and accosting the Disney princesses (plus Red Riding Hood) in scenes that even the crew over at Zenescope would think was exploitative. In the end, it all turns out to be a fever dream–unlike the usual issue of Tarot, which only seems like a fever dream–but the general thrust (ha!) of the matter is that fairy tale heroines are setting a bad example for young girls by not… well, by not getting naked in front of the mentally ill (Snow White, modeled by Holly G., Balent’s wife and colorist), getting naked and hunting down your enemies with a pistol (Riding Hood), wearing bondage gear to a fancy party (Cinderella, who is shown in, I shit you not, a glass corset), or getting naked, getting a tattoo, and making out with a prince who looks suspiciously like Jim Balent (The Little Mermaid).

Dubious lessons aside, this issue does have some of the best lines of the run, including, in the hard-boiled Riding Hood vignette, “Now it’s Little Red’s turn to do the stalking. That’s why she removed her clothes. She’s bait.” which just makes me laugh and laugh.

Oh, Tarot. Don’t ever change.

 

Trades

 

Mr. T: Believe it or not, I sometimes exaggerate for humorous effect here on the ISB, but there comes a time when I have to set aside any pretense of comedy and just lay out the facts, and this is one of them. Everything I am about to say about this book is completely true.

This new Graphic Novel, which casts Mr. T as a world-traveling bodyguard with an indestructible suit of bulletproof armor and a sidekick named Indigo Jo, is divided into six chapters, each of which starts with an homage to a classic Marvel cover.

In the first one, Mr. T punches out a guy in a cybernetic battlesuit.

In the second, Mr. T punches out rednecks.

In the third, Mr. T punches out ninjas.

In the fourth, Mr. T punches out his evil doppelganger, a white guy with a mohawk named Mr. C.

I don’t know what happens in the other two parts, as I had to stop before my head exploded from radness, but I do know that writer Christopher Bunting is currently working on a sequel called–and again, I am one hundred percent serious here–MR. T VS. DRACULA.

This is the greatest comic book that has ever been published.

 


 

And that’s the week! As always, any questions on something I got this week, or even just chit-chat about the appealing design of the new DC Comics Classics Library books, can be left in the comments section below.

In the meantime, I’ll be trying to figure out if the world is ready for Mr. T vs. Dracula… and hoping that it takes place on the moon.

Scott Pilgrim vs. The Universe!

Your eyes do not deceive you, folks: The fifth volume of Bryan Lee O’Malley’s Scott Pilgrim series doesn’t hit shelves for a couple of weeks yet, but thanks to the good people in Oni’s marketing department, I’ve gotten an advance copy to review!

And short version?

 

 

It’s awesome.

As for the long version, well, let’s start with the negatives: Scott Pilgrim vs. the Universe is not as purely enjoyable as Scott Pilgrim Gets It Together, which marks the first time in the series that the latest book doesn’t just blow away its predecessor. But to be fair, Gets It Together isn’t just the best of the series thus far, but one of my favorite comics of all time, so it makes a pretty tough act to follow.

At the same time, SP v.5 really couldn’t be any other way. Volume 4 was exactly what it said on the cover–the story of Scott finally getting his life together and learning The Power Of Love–and as such, it marks a big emotional turning point for the story for Scott himself, and it leads naturally into a story that raises the stakes. He’s the one that gets it together, he’s the one that learns to accept Ramona and his feelings for her, he’s the one that steps up and has a talk with Knives Chau’s dad, and in this one, he’s the one who has to deal with everything around him falling apart.

 

 

If you’ve been following the series so far–and really, you oughtta be–then you have a pretty good idea of what to expect from this one. The basic beats that make the series so fun (menacing exes, people being hit so hard that they turn into change, sub-space highways) are all here, but with a shift in tone that sees the past catching up with Scott and Ramona in some pretty significant ways that can’t always be dealt with by a handy video game reference.

It’s fitting then that while Scott spends more time fighting in this volume than ever before, very little of it’s actually shown on-panel. Instead, O’Malley shifts the focus to the supporting cast while the big fights rage in the background, and while this can be a little disappointing at first if you–like me–have been hoping to see Scott throw down on a bunch of robots for the past fourteen months, the tradeoff is a deeper emotional undercurrent. At this point, we already know that Scott’s going to win any fight he gets into, and by taking that as a foregone conclusion and using the time to set up the other aspects of the story, O’Malley’s asking a different question: Sure, the hero fights hard and gets the girl, but what happens after? What if they go through all that and it doesn’t work out?

It’s an interesting change from the more lighthearted tone that the book started with, but that’s what made it such a good read to begin with, and what continues to keep me hooked, to the point where I’m honestly regretting that we’re this close to the end.

So while this one might not have the pop of the last volume, it’s every bit as awesome.

Like I said, a review copy of Scott Pilgrim vs. the Universe was provided by the publisher, but it’s scheduled to hit shelves at your friendly local comic book store starting February 4, and probably reputable online retailers shortly thereafter. So buy it already!